Just how different was this year’s election from previous ones? What makes 2016 stand out in Ghana’s political history?
The stunning change in the 2016 results involved a sharp decline in voter participation across the country especially in strongholds of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC).
National voter turnout for 2012 was 79.43 percent while the percentage for 2016 was close to 69. This represented a total voter drop-off of about 10.43 percent.
A statistical analysis of the performance of incumbent President John Mahama in 2016 showed a disproportionate performance from the 2012 elections.
The President in 2012 polled 5,574,761 votes representing 50.7 percent of total valid vote cast. However, he was to record 4,550,116 votes which was 44.04 percent of the overall votes in the 2016 elections in 267 collated constituencies out of the 275.
A simple subtraction points to the loss of 1,024,645 votes by President Mahama in 2016. Where did these votes go? Did New Patriotic Party (NPP)’s Presidential Candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo get those votes?
Outgoing President, John Dramani Mahama
The NPP leader in 2012 managed 5,248,898 votes which was 47.74 of the valid vote cast. He upped his performance by 345,462 votes in the 2016 elections, recording 5,594,360 votes representing 54.14 percent.
If you subtract the votes gained by Nana Akufo-Addo from the one lost by President Mahama, you will have an excess of 679,183 votes.
The unanswered question remains: Where did these votes go?
From the statistics computed above it’s obvious that the excess votes didn’t go to the NPP leader. The best response is that those voters stayed out of the exercise. Was this intentional?
This anomaly, I am convinced, had nothing to do with claims of disillusioned voters, underperformance of President Mahama or other unsubstantiated wisdom.
President-elect, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
The drop-off is attributable to a deliberate strategy by the NPP campaign to reduce the votes of the President and this is responsible for Akufo-Addo’s margin of victory.
It’s never true that the NPP leader won the election because Ghanaians bought into his campaign policies. Far from it.
His recycled policies such as the free senior high school, strengthening the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and reduction of taxes in the country among others were not responsible for his victory. Matter of fact, the outcome of the presidential election showed the votes Akufo-Addo won were not exponential.
NPP Volta Regional Chairman, John Peter Amewu
Evidence on the field pointed to a clear strategy to discourage and disillusion NDC voters in the party’s strongholds especially the Volta Region. In post-election comments on JOYNEWS channel on MultiTV, NPP Volta Regional Chairman, John Peter Amewu thanked former President Jerry John Rawlings for contributing to the poor performance of the NDC in the Region. He argued the NPP succeeded in suppressing voters from Togo. By extension voters from the Region.
In the Brong Ahafo and Central Regions, there were claims of threat of retribution for persons who cast their ballot for the NDC. The atmosphere of fear reigned in the lead up to the general elections. NDC functionaries also carried the same threat on persons who wanted to vote for the NPP. Clashes between supporters of both parties were recorded across the country. It's no doubt that these incidents contributed to the poor numbers recorded at the polls.
I don’t think President Mahama was happy with the organization of his campaign. He was puzzled and in great disbelieve when the numbers trickled in. The numbers also produced disbelieving reactions from NDC functionaries and Ghanaians. Claims of corruption and tribal messages of the President demotivated NDC members to vote for him.
What helped the President-elect wasn’t his campaign messages or his personality. The undying enthusiasm of NPP members, despite the skirmishes within the party, was responsible for the victory. Some voters I interacted with after the polls explained they voter for Akufo-Addo because they believe he has suffered for the nation and deserved the coveted presidency.
However, there’s the need to bolster the confidence of electorate in the country ahead of 2020 general elections. This would be largely dependent on the performance of Akufo-Addo.
If there’s any takeaway from the December 7 presidential election, it’s that a President’s core constituents must be kept satisfied. Towards the end of the NDC campaign there were simmering tension within the party due to the dissatisfaction of some core members. Everybody matters.
With political pundits prognosticating over potential candidates for the 2020 presidential elections, it’s important for those candidates to build their core group that will propel them to the presidency. Openness to contrary views and one’s preparedness to conduct an attack-free campaign would determine the next leader of Ghana.